Poco A Poco

I got sober in Mexico many years ago. Although, my Spanish was poor, I listened intently to the proffered wisdom from my peers. There was one man with large handlebar mustaches who used to smile broadly and say, “Poco A Poco, nos vamos lejos”. That translates (more or less) as “Little by little, we go a long way.”

         I have repeated that piece of simple wisdom to myself many, many times in the subsequent years. As I began to put my life into shape, I would sometimes despair at how much there was to do. That little saying helped me to achieve my goals. It still helps me.

In New Thought, we believe, as we pray, that instant healing is happening, but many goals take time to achieve. It is good to keep the vision of the completed goal in mind but it is also important to move toward our dreams on a daily basis.

You can’t lose a hundred pounds in a weekend. Nor can you build a financial empire in a day. It usually takes time to change our consciousness enough to get what we want.  In that process of change, it is important to remember that if we give up and stop trying we will not acieve the goal.

We have all had the experience of making a New Year’s resolution and then reverting to our old behavior by Valentine’s Day. That’s when my friend’s expression, “Poco a poco, nos vamos lejos,” comes in handy. Staying the course is the best way to get where we want to go.

Mark Twain has a famous quote about how easy it is to give up smoking and then he says, he knows it is easy because he has given it up so many, many times. That is funny but it is also pathetic. How many times do we let our impatience discourage us?

I am an expert on accomplishing big dreams despite inner and outer obstacles. In my lifetime, I’ve worked my way though college, had successful careers as a teacher, writer and minister. I’ve written over 80 books and many shorter works. I’ve quit drinking, smoking and eating obsessively. None of these things were exactly easy but some were much easier than others.

Once I asked for help and stopped drinking, I was fortunate because I never slipped. I suppose that was an instant healing but I had to change a lot of social habits and patterns of thought to keep from slipping. Nevertheless, I am very grateful it went so well.

Not all people find it that easy. I had a dear friend who went to meetings off and on for fourteen years before he finally got a full year of sobriety under his belt.  When he shared his story with me, he said he was ashamed it took so long and I remember thinking he was one of the most courageous people I’d ever known.

It is difficult to make a goal or resolution and fail but we should never let that be the end of the story. What we need to do is pick up the dream, dust it off, and start again. Little by little, we will discover whatever it is that we need to know in order to get what we want.

I gave up smoking after a truly insane week as the nicotine worked its way out of my system. I do not exaggerate – my physical addiction to cigarettes was very powerful and the craving continued for quite a while. I have never been tempted to smoke again because I never wanted to go through the pain of withdrawal again.

Two healings of addictions went well. On the other hand, it took me myriad attempts to heal compulsive eating. I did manage to lose a hundred pounds but it took many years. I’m still working on losing more. Over those years of diet struggles, I went to Overeaters Anonymous, Weight Watchers, and nutrition classes in the local hospital. I failed and failed and failed again.

I continued to pray and struggle. I read several books on dieting. They all had different food plans and ideas and I suppose they all would have worked if I’d stuck with them. Eventually, I decided just to count calories and that worked. Very slowly – but it worked. I’d write my calories in a notebook each day, and total them at the end of the week. The next week, I’d start all over again. Little by little, I went a long way and that was because I never gave up.

Not all goals are so difficult. However, many of our best dreams do require perseverance. You can eventually achieve most of them if you stick with the vision over the long haul. Steadfastness is the key.

One very important thing to remember as you pursue your dreams is that you must do so, one day at a time. It is good to have a big goal in mind, but very, very helpful to cut your goal into small sections. Keeping the dream alive is wonderful and there are pitfalls if you insist on only focusing on the final result.

I have found it is better to pray to stay on my eating plan this day than to tell God to give me a perfect sized  body NOW. If I starve myself for a week and discover I’ve only lost two pounds, I don’t want to fall into despair and start binge eating.

I learned the one day at a time method in 12 step rooms but it works for everything – not just addictive behavior. For example, if you sit down at your desk to write a book and begin by reminding yourself that you have to write at least 50,000 words before it will be finished, you will paralyze yourself before you start. I suggest you aim for a certain number of hours working on the book each day. Or you can set a goal of 1000 words a day. Above all, don’t let lapses in achievement be the reason for quitting.

One thing you can do for yourself that will truly speed up your progress is to pray for your goal on a daily basis. You can also spend some time visualizing how it is going to feel and look when you have arrived at your destination. Systematic prayer and visualization is an important part of any achievement plan.

What are your desired dreams? Do you want to make more friends? Improve your golf score? Get more exercise? Learn a foreign language? Paint beautiful pictures?  You can achieve your desires, poco a poco while you are enjoying life. Just be sure to stick with the dream.

Ask Yourself

Is there an old dream I want to dust off and begin to work on again?

Is there a way to split that goal into smaller increments?


5 Comments on “Poco A Poco”

  1. Lynn Guilfoyle says:

    Great article! And a helpful reminder that each goal stands alone and requires patience & persistence.

  2. Ellen Sheive says:

    You know, Dr. Jane, your Poco A Poco blog is a subject (in general) often spoken and written about. However, I’ve never read or heard a more clear, easily inspiring (and not the least bit ‘daunting’) version of this subject. Your mind is a “breath of fresh air”. Keep on!

    • janeclaypool says:

      Thanks again for your encouraging words. I think sometimes we want to believe that all we have to do is turn around three times and spit over our left shoulder and all our issues will be resolved. Truth is that those overcoming those issues is what makes us the successes in life that we are. You and I share that experience, don’t we?

  3. Mari Saavedra says:

    Thank you Dr. Jane for being who you are, and for your blog, you are certainly helping us Poco a Poco with your stories and sharing of yourself.

    Love, Mari

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